Hear the first chapter of the audiobook for The Muse by Suzie Carr @girl_novelist on this episode of Book Clips, the mini podcast that gives listeners a taste of a book.
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The Muse by Suzie Carr
Jane Knoll doesn’t realize it yet, but life is about to take a daring turn. For the past decade, Jane’s been able to recapture her sense of peace after years of being bullied. By day she edits marketing jargon, and by night she watches television reruns with her gay neighbor, Larry. She’s comfortable. Then, after she meets her new coworker, Eva, television reruns are no longer an option. Too shy to get to know Eva in real life, Jane creates an online alter ego and starts to follow her on Twitter.
Face-to-face, Jane is nothing more than Eva’s nondescript, clumsy coworker: a social catastrophe. But, behind the safety of her laptop screen, she becomes confident and empowered with purpose and talent. The two hit it off, and what forms is an undeniable creative union, one with the ability to positively change many lives.
There’s just one major problem standing in the way, though. Can she fulfill her purpose and make a change in the world while living the rest of her life as an alter ego? Is she brave enough to reveal her true identity and risk squandering all she’s gained by it?
This audiobook delves into the dramatic world of women in love, anti-bullying, sexuality, social psychology, and social anxiety.
please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect
You are listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book The Muse by Suzie Carr
Chapter one I stopped within an inch of indulging in my first kiss when I was 14 years old since escaping that mishap I’ve been convinced of one thing in my lifetime I would never experience that basic coming-of-age milestone I would bet my life that I Jane Knoll was the only 29 year old person in my office boid yet to tingle at the touch of someone’s lips against her own according to all modern day social norms I was pathetic and lonely however I had way too much going on to be forced into believing for one second that I was lonely and pathetic just because I lost my BFFs back in the eighth grade when they drew their daggers against me didn’t mean that I would never smile or laugh again I’ve managed just fine without the need of a right-handed left-handed and backhanded lover a friend to guide me most people only dreamed of their destinies whereas I controlled mine by taking action on it like just the other day I wanted strawberry ice cream so I bought some I didn’t have to justify to anyone why I ventured out to the convenience store five blocks away now I just climbed out of my pajama bottoms put on a pair of jeans and a bra and drove to meet up with my destiny for the evening spoonful after spoonful of strawberry heaven I’ve always been grateful for those wide expanses of freedom that defined my life I was hardly pathetical only at least I wasn’t the type of girl who would be so pathetic as to neglect watering her plants on Saturdays or especially not the type who didn’t understand the principles of proper feng shui in the alignment of good space I made time for those things without having to regard how it would impact anyone else’s time in space what I want to place a giant water fountain near my front door I did so with reckless abandon pulling no stops on its lavish display surely if my mother had pulled such a stunt my father would have crucified her hard work in time by forcing her to take it down repackage it and send it back I was free and for that I was grateful I was also grateful for my job as a marketing headline copywriter and proofreader at one of the country’s leading sporting goods manufacturers I just loved my cushy cubicle with its tall beige checkered walls and view of the beautiful spider plant in my neighbor Doreen’s cubicle she resembled my grandma with her floral dresses wide hips and shimmering silver hair that was most certainly set on rollers every Saturday at the corner beauty shop she always spoiled me no one else got to sink her teeth into corn muffins every Wednesday and blueberry bagels with cream cheese every Friday like I did she respected my space and only interrupted me when she dropped off those delicious treats or wanted to share some big news that might shake our days a few weeks ago as she passed me my corn muffin she told me that a new branch had opened up in New York City and some of the new staff members were coming to our mid-atlantic office for introductions on the last introduction day my team leader tasked me to brew the coffee and assure the creamer jugs were filled she honored Doreen with the task of creating labels for each attendee we were a couple of important people at the office how would the enterprise ever remain intact without us if one day we woke up and decided we’d rather dig holes in a garden and plant tomatoes I wondered that all the time when I wasn’t fretting over my hair my makeup my clothing or for that matter when I wasn’t worrying about how we’d ever managed to keep the earth rotating in its planetary alignment or how we’d ensure that the clouds rain down enough water to keep us drought free for the remainder of the planets lifespan yeah you guessed it I happen to be a tad bit sarcastic and justifiably so years of bullying did that to a person hey at least the cynicism kept me company if it weren’t for its constant presence I probably would have drunk poison or leapt off the side of the pretentious office buildings roof by now I enjoyed my daily work cynicism didn’t stand alone as my friend now piles of excitement blanketed my daily grind I was so thrilled that I spent $30,000 on a master’s degree in English and that I enjoyed the full advantage of that big splurge by spending my days swimming in a sea of marketing jargon that touted the world’s best fitted golf shirts and swimming trunks I was that lucky English major who got to spend her day in a private cubicle searching for misspelled words and parenthetical phrases placed in the wrong parts of sentences oh yes you probably guessed it again I was a lucky one who lived out her dreams correcting others mistakes my lips are tugging upwards into a smile with that confession I was the epitome of happiness sitting in my cubicle snacking on corn muffins made too stale for human consumption and drinking coffee that tasted more like dirty water and delicious Java beans I would like to tell you truthfully what I’d really love to do one day I’d love to stand up on my desk and tell all the glory stealers to kiss my ass speaking of wanting to tell someone to kiss my ass Katy a graphic designer and marketing just left my boss Sanjeev in his office if anyone deserved to be stuck in a cubicle making less money in a year than what I owed back in student loans sitting in a chair at less ergonomic and a concrete slab it would be her thank goodness she did she slapped on a sugary smile each day and fed me small helpings of her sarcasm she hated me for things outside of my control I couldn’t help it if her husband was a dirtbag pervert and that Sanjeev would rather suffer a fall down a flight of stairs and deal with her in a messed-up way I enjoyed sharing sarcastic smiles with her we followed our fake niceties back and for like a couple of well trained experts she played hard I did to my years of bully hell taught me well that morning she walked right past me without regard strutting by in her high heels and goody two-shoes attitude Sanji you’ve walked out of his office and headed straight toward me he straightened his blue corporate tie smiled into a few cubicles as he passed them and stopped right outside of mine the rest went down as such hey Jane he said with a pleasant smile I hope you don’t mind but could I ask for your help with proofing some pieces before I new colleagues get here I want them perfect began to me a black folder but the company’s gold embossed logo on it Katy mentioned you’re in between projects oh did she I point to my eyes down at the pile of work she had placed on my desk that morning with a big note due by noon I don’t mean to bother you he said is it too much he always spoke with a reserved respect I adored his Indian accent he added a W in two places where he didn’t even belong that little speech oddity powered me with the confidence around him and created a safe haven for those times when he stared at me just a little too long of course not Sanjeev I smiled at him and he flushed I’ll take care of it for you he whispered her thank you tap the door frame to my cubicle and strolled away with his hands knotted at his lower back Doreen popped over to my cubicle a few seconds later her hair was cropped tighter than usual and her lips were shade too pink for the fluorescent lights he’s got such a crush on you it’s ridiculous you’re insane I said I spun my chair away from her and waved her off like I did every time she said that to me he only flushed around me because of the time I forgot to button my shirt completely and to both of our hearts I caught him staring into the deep cleavage that my ill-fitted bra created he’s not going to be single forever I spoke all the round to face her Doreen I’ve got zero interest in hooking up at Sanjeev I also had zero interest in men but like everything else about me I kept that safe off only I was thirty years younger I’d be all over that I’d love to step inside her worldview for just a day to experience life without the overcast shadows of doubt left behind from years of listening to Mean Girls tell me how much they didn’t like me and watch as they destroyed my life and the lives of those I cared for the most a week later the new staff from the New York City office arrived I dashed off to the bathroom before having to succumb to long speeches and endless applause I was washing my hands when in walked a tall dark-haired woman wearing a smart fitted dress and a smile she reminded me of someone who would have grown up in middle to upper-class America living in a mini mansion in a bedroom swaddled in everything pretty in pink I imagined she was always followed by a trail of pretty girls who spent their time laughing at girls like me girls who shied away from anyone who could have damaged their already damaged lives she passed by and stopped right before entering a stall I feel really silly asking this she said in a low raspy voice but can you tell there’s something kind of strange about my outfit she rested her hand on her curvy hip posing like a runway model I stopped lathering soap in my hands biting down hard and the derisive words that had I been a brave a woman would have knocked her down a few notches from a pretty little perch I knew her type – well entitled – stairs and dropped jaws rather than attempt it I scanned her taupe dress her bare calves and her sandaled feet like a fearful bird pecking crumbs in the wake of hasty tourists I turned back to the sink into the safety of the running water and shrugged looks fine I mumbled so you didn’t notice my mistake I looked back up at her reflection in the mirror skirting around her penetrating eyes her dark wavy hair resting at her breasts and her exotic features I shook my head in my peripheral I saw her nod with gracious appeal she turned and entered the stall okay then all is good I continued washing my hands while checking out her slender ankles and the way her sandals cradled her feet so delicately her crimson toenails sparkled and the strings of her sandals flirted with her soft smooth creamy skin I grazed from one pretty sandal to the other that’s when I noticed her mishap she one dark blue sandal in one black one an imperfect beauty my heart swirled as I shut off the water I tore off the paper towel and hid my giggle until I passed well out of earshot of the woman wearing two different colored shoes the joy of such a discovery saddled me and giddiness Eva handle was her name I guessed her to be part Chinese and part white when she entered the meeting room minutes later my breath hitched she moved through the air as gentle as wind swept through a field of wildflowers delicate yielding and breezy when she took to the podium she sprinkled us in smiles and good wishes for a successful second quarter her eyes sparkled under the golden over heads and they waltzed from one person to the next connecting us in her sweet lullaby her golden cheeks glistened her dark hair cascaded like pretty Ivy around her shoulders and her inflection pitched in just the right places her sandals stood out to me like a well wrapped gift offering me a most impeccable view of a most flawless mishap she spoke with eloquence and grace undeterred by her mismatched sandals and the 300-plus people who sat staring at her she joked about her bumpy motorcycle ride down the New Jersey Turnpike from the city and about how excited she was that her bike came complete with a small hatch so she could pack her running shoes and her sandals even from the back row of the room I caught the gleam of humor in her eye as she balanced her secret like a well-trained model balanced a book on her head she danced around her secret playing with it and placing it out in front for all to see a magician with an invisible wand a hot biker chick with a knack for humor Eva handle could carry with ease we’re luck failed she used wet to pull her through she said how excited she was to be part of our team and eager I learned from each of us how she could take live events to a whole new level she discussed future plans to initiate a series of public service announcements geared at peak in the interests of the youth into setting exercise into their daily habits she opened her arms wider and talked with her hands as she climbed the rudders of joy she loved camera work and couldn’t wait to get started on those short clips when she finished her speech she sat back down on the stage next to a bald guy wearing a bright orange shirt and blue tie she smiled and joked around with that guy who gazed into her eyes and Swede into her the two chummed it up in private musings leaving the rest of us to guess what playful secrets they were sharing for the remainder of the speeches I couldn’t help but stare at her from the safety of my back row seat I enjoyed the soft way her lips curled up into a smile whenever someone referenced her and the subtle sexiness of her ankles as she crossed him over each other time and again a movement so on obvious to onlookers yet so intense to me at one point I looked up from her mismatched two sandals and into her eyes she caught me and offered me a knowing smile I flushed and sank lower in my seat surprised by the flutters and my racing heart I circled my gaze around the room with my head in a halo of joy wondering if anyone else noticed but the most beautiful girl in the room just smiled at me yes she smiled at me you have been listening to book clips check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book if you are interested in showcasing your novel then check out the show notes for more information